Earwax, also referred to as cerumen, is a substance that is naturally produced by the ear canal and has 3 main functions. First, it moisturises the skin of the ear canal which prevents dry and itchy ears and second it contains chemicals that fight off infections. Finally, it stops dirt, dust and other debris from reaching the eardrum. It is composed mainly of keratin, unsaturated/saturated long-chain fatty acids, alcohols, squalene and cholesterol.
After the wax is made it will slowly begin to make its way out from the ear canal to the opening of the ear. In most cases, it will either fall out on its own or will be washed out after having a shower.
How Do I Know If I Have Excessive Earwax?
If you have excessive ear wax it will eventually cause a plug that can block the ear and may result in the following:
- Sudden hearing loss
- Pain in the ear
- Tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing sound constantly heard in the ear)
- A cough – this is actually an unknown symptom to a lot of people but the pressure on the nerve in the ear caused by the earwax can result in coughing.
If you have any of the above issues and you are unsure of the cause it is advised to get your ear checked out by a professional who will be able to take a look into your ears and if needed can safely and effectively remove any problems using a microsuction ear wax removal procedure.
Who Is Susceptible To Excessive Ear Wax?
Some people are more prone to getting excessive ear wax than others, these include:
- Those that have skin conditions such as eczema
- Those that do not have a fully developed ear canal
- Those that have Sjogren’s syndrome – a condition that causes dryness due to the condition affecting fluids.
- Those with a narrow ear canal
- The elderly – due to the earwax becoming drier and harder.
- Those that have osteomas
- Those that are prone to recurring impacted earwax and ear infections
Exessive Ear Wax Side Effects
Exessive ear wax may seem like a benign thing but it can lead to some side effects. Usually, the demographic that suffers most from excessive ear wax is the elderly. It is thought that around two-thirds of all the people in care homes suffer from some degree of compacted ear wax and blocked ears.
Usually, those that suffer from sudden, unexplained hearing loss are found to have a build-up of ear wax which when removed will usually restore the hearing. There can be a link made to some people who have balance issues i.e. vertigo and a build of ear wax.
Other side effects of excessive ear wax can be memory issues and behavioural changes. Some people who suffer from hearing issues can have hindered communication which can lead to mishearing information. This can lead to withdrawal in some people and can in severe cases cause some behavioural issues.